Letter: History is about much more than statues
Doris Thompson, Buckner
To the editor:
Can history be changed by eradicating the statues reflected during the making of that history? If we destroy the monuments of earlier eras because those monuments were built with slave labor or the honoree was a slave owner, where do we stop? We would have to tear down the Great Wall of China, the pyramids, many of the beautiful cathedrals of Europe and probably Mount Vernon and Monticello. We might even begin to justify in our twisted thinking that we had the right to tear down privately owned antebellum homes because they too were built with slave labor.
When my grandmother came to Ellis Island at the age of 14, although she was white and an indentured servant, she was treated as a slave. She bore her burdens and fears and had to deal with her bitterness. I was the first to discover one of her fears when I asked her if she ever wanted to go back to Germany. No! When I continued to press her, I found it was because she was a German Jew, and so great was her fear, she kept this from her own children. Her bitterness was magnified and her fear turned into pain, actually becoming the source of displaced hostility for herself, others and the world.
In 1808, long before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free the Confederate slaves, it was declared illegal to import slaves to the United States. In 1822, a new country was created on the western coast of Africa called the Republic of Liberia with its capital city named Monrovia in honor of James Monroe, for the sole purpose of being occupied and developed by ex-slaves. Over the next 38 years,15,000 opted to go, but the others were either still slaves or said no. Did they fail to tell their children why they chose to remain in the United States instead of going to Liberia? Had their bitterness become magnified and their fear turned into such pain that it became the source of their displaced hostility for themselves, others and the world?
It has been said to employers, “Hire for attitude, not skills. You can teach them the skill, but you can’t change their attitude.” I have learned that attitudes can only be changed spiritually internalized by good or by evil, by right or by wrong, and we need to be continually alert to which spirit has power over us, even if we call ourselves Christians. Attitude adjustments are usually painful, and attitude adjusters are unpopular but if we, the people, do not make the necessary attitude adjustments, nothing is going to matter.